'Enough is enough' - Senior cop pleads for families to stop protecting criminals as 11-month-old victim of violence remembered
Gripped with anguish, Assistant Commissioner of Police George Quallo could not fight back the tears yesterday, shortly after viewing the body of 11-month-old Omar Lindo Jr during the child's funeral at the North Street Seventh-day Adventist Church in downtown Kingston.
"In my over 38 years in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), this is my worst day. It is hard looking at an 11- month-old baby, lying in a casket, shot and killed by another child. What wrong could that baby have done?" muttered Quallo, while wiping his teary eyes with a handkerchief.
But as the nation celebrates Child Month, the assistant commissioner revealed that a new teenage gang has emerged and is hell-bent on creating mayhem in the society.
"They are called the Leprechaun Gang. Their age ranges between 13-17. They are recruited, sent out to rob, and must return with the proceeds," Quallo told the scores of mourners.
Though he did not disclose the target areas, the senior officer further explained that when the gang of teenagers returns, it is the gang leader who determines what or how much they get from the stolen monies or valuables.
The Gleaner understands that this is one of the latest gangs that has risen up out of the troubled west Kingston community, and the current leader has been held and charged under the anti-gang legislation.
"Enough is enough! Mothers, stop washing the bloody clothes of your children. Spouses, stop hiding the wrong that your spouses are doing. Parents, don't accept your children coming home with money and other valuables that they cannot account for. If you do, then you are supporting criminality," Quallo warned.
Pointing to the accused implicated in the gun slaying of 11-month-old Omar, Quallo stressed that the youngster is just 16 years old.
"The accused in this incident is a child and, under normal circumstances, should not even know how to use a gun. Too often adults fail to play a greater role in the upbringing of children. The problem of gun violence is not concentrated in any particular area. It is affecting every community of this blessed country.
"In 2014, Jamaica lost 45 children violently, and for the first four months of this year, 26 children have been killed. In Area Four, which comprises Kingston Western, Kingston Eastern, St Andrew South, St Andrew Central and Kingston Central, 14 children were killed in 2014 and seven have been killed so far this year," said Quallo.
It was an emotional farewell to the child who died 13 days before his first birthday. He was shot and killed on April 6 at his Chancery Lane home in Kingston.
Another child who was shot and injured in that incident had his eyes glued to the coffin as he sat up front between Deputy Superintendent Lena McBean and Inspector Tommie-Lee Chambers, who took turns comforting him.